Since I was a child, I’ve always loved reading. One of my first passions were books dealing with Greek and Roman mythology, a topic I loved so much because it was an extremely fascinating way to escape a reality I perceived as ordinary and not exciting at all. The demigod Hercules (or Heracles, if you prefer the Greek version) and its twelve labours were among my favourite narrations: this incredibly strong hero, who overcame all kinds of trials, was irresistible to my eyes and the places he visited were full of charm. The Garden of the Hesperides is the place where he steals immortality-giving golden apples (according to the Greek version, they actually are oranges); the garden is tended by three nymphs, the Hesperides – Aegle, Espere and Arethusa – also known as the Daughters of Evening, and by a dragon, Ladon .
This legendary place has inspired many artists because it is a symbol of bliss, peace and happiness. Fred Leighton, for example, portrayed the nymphs relaxing under the apple tree: one of them is playing a lyre, while another one is surrounded by the snake’s coils.
Albert Herter gave a similar rendition of the myth, using a more impressionistic technique and aethereal colours. The perspective of the painting is different and some details change: the snake is crawling on the ground and some golden apples have fallen off the tree.
In 2008 Diptyque, the Parisian parfumeur I have a passion for, launched three eaux fraîches to celebrate its 40th anniversary (the first fragrance – L’Eau – was created in 1968 by Norbert Bijaoui). I tried all of them and I immediately fell in love with L’Eau des Hesperides because it totally smelled like mint, so fresh and original.
One small downside of this perfume is its bottle: I love the trademark thick rectangular glass bottle of Diptyque perfumes, so I am not digging this rounded version, nor the cheap-looking top. I must admit I have a fixation for perfumes bottles with screw tops (and no spray pump): I know they’re not practical, but unscrewing the top and applying perfume with fingertips is much more romantic and sensual, don’t you agree?
The box is exactly like any other Diptyque perfume box, thank God: white, with the oval label printed in black. One of the most fascinating details about the brand are the symbols and the illustrations in the labels, which usually echo the main theme of the different perfumes. In this case, there two antique statues in what we assume is a garden, a plant vase and some branches of a tree, bearing some fruits, which look like apples.
The bottle has the same label as the box.
The inside of Diptyque boxes are usually blank white, but this is not the case (I love this “secret” detail), because, if you open it and take the inner cardboard out, you’ll see the complete illustration of the label. So we can see the statues on a pedestal, the tree and some ruins (two small slabs and some broken shafts with fluting – on one of them a Ionic capital rests). The melancholic mood is emphasized by the windswept leaves of the tree. I think the illustration is brilliant, an original rendition of the Pre-Romantic garden, and a clear reference to the garden of the myth.
This perfume was created by Olivier Pescheux, who used bitter orange oil, peppermint oil and immortelle (also called helichrysum, symbol of eternity). The result is pretty persistent, stunning and unique, arcane and mysterious. Like the other Diptyque perfumes I use, it gives you the feeling there’s something more to be discovered in its composition, as if what you are smelling is not the complete range of suggestions it contains.
 The Hesperides were punished after Hercules’ theft: they were turned into a poplar, a willow and an elm. The dragon, on the other hand, was turned into the constellation of the Serpent.